Tuesday, July 31 – El Cerrito
When we arrived last night, we had a wonderful reunion.
We stayed up late talking and catching up so it was wonderful to sleep in and know that we didn’t have to pack up and get on the move. So good to drink coffee and chat with our girl this morning.
Our activity for today was a trip into San Francisco and Fisherman’s Wharf. While waiting for the main activity we had a chance to look around the wharf and see the Sea Lions.
There was a boat ride out on the bay that we hadn’t tried before. It was called the RocketBoat.
It was a big speed boat with a powerful engine and they took us out on the bay to race around in big circles. It was a complete thrill ride.
Wyatt and I sat on the edge nearest the railing and when they turned the boat in a tight circle it sprayed us with sea water. The whole time we were laughing out loud because it was so crazy.
The wind was whipping in our faces and it was cold out there but nobody cared. When we got to land, we got out and sat down to catch our breath. Wendy got some great pictures during the ride.
Next we went to a seafood restaurant on Pier 39 called Fog Harbor. We all had fantastic meals while looking out toward the pier.
After the restaurant we bought Carmel corn and cotton candy for the boys before leaving.
On our way home we chose a route across the Golden Gate Bridge which was partly shrouded in fog.
Wednesday, August 1 – Mendocino
About a week before we left on our trip, the situation around Yosemite turned bad. Not only was the Ferguson Fire threatening the south and west entrances, they closed Yosemite Valley because of the air quality and to keep the roads open for fire fighting equipment. Then there was a rock slide on the northern Tioga Pass Road. Apparently some cars on the road were actually hit by falling rocks and the road was closed for clearing for a day or so. We decided to cancel our reservation and give up on meeting Wendy’s family there. Instead, Zach’s sister and brother-in-law offered to let us stay at their vacation house in Mendocino for a few days. Mendocino is a little village north of the Bay Area right on the ocean.
We had a relatively boring drive on the interstate for about half the way then turned onto a very twisty and hilly road. Zach had volunteered to be the driver like a sweetheart. The road passed through dense woods of redwood trees. At times it was so dark it was hard to see.
After we arrived and settled in we set off for the kids’ favorite restaurant, Sea Pals. You order your fish/shrimp dinner then find a table on the dock. They bring your food out to you. While we ate we saw some sea lions swimming in the channel.
It is a working fishing dock with lots of boats bringing in fresh catch and ready to be hired by tourists who want to fish.
When we got back to Erin and Bryan’s, Zach and Wyatt got into the hot tub for a soak.
Thursday, August 2 – Mendocino
There is a lot of inertia to overcome to get the various members of this crew out the door. While we waited, Wendy and I took a few minutes to walk around the property to look at what is growing here. As I said before, we are staying at Zach’s sister and brother-in-law’s vacation house. They have refurbished the house and have planted some new things. Out front they have stunning flowers called Red Hot Pokers that I love.
We also found pear trees, apple trees, artichokes and some new plants we couldn’t identify.
We went to the back of their lot and found a big redwood, holly plants, and some red nasturtiums that looked like they were growing wild. Scattered across the lawn were all sorts of tiny pink and yellow flowers in amongst the golden grass. It is a very pretty effect.
We were ready to go at about noon and went to the train station to buy tickets for our second train ride of the vacation, the Skunk Train.
It was called that, not because it smelled like a skunk exactly, but because when it first started, the combination of oil and gasoline smelled bad to those living along the tracks who could smell it before they saw it… just like a skunk.
The ride was about an hour long and went through the woods along a nice stream where redwoods, several different ferns, skunk cabbages, blackberries, and lots of other things we didn’t know the names of were growing. It was a nice way to get up close to the kind of woods we drove through on our way here.
Wendy and I decided to drive to a local park to watch the sunset. In the parking lot there was a sign showing the way to the “Sin Hole” which sounded like an odd name for a feature. We followed the trail and when we were almost to the cliff edge we found a large depression going clear down to the sea where we realized that what we were looking at was acually a”Sink Hole.” Some wags with a scraper completely tricked us. The sunset was beautiful and it was a great way to end the day.
Friday, August 3 – Mendocino
Today we went out for breakfast/lunch at a restaurant the kids liked. Some of us had breakfast and some chose lunch. We all felt stuffed by the time we left. Wendy, Wyatt, Augie, and I went to a beach called Sea Glass Beach. The story goes that there was a dump nearby for some time and bottles eventually escaped and were battered into tiny shards by the sea and then onto the beach. Subsequent wear and tear made them smoothe-edged and buffed. Anyway, every handful of sand contains lots of polished sea glass that glints in the sun. When we were there today there were also lots of little tide pools with hermit crabs, seaweed, snails and small fish. There were two little girls capturing creatures and setting them free in the ocean. They were so excited and every find was a thrill. Wendy found and caught a little hermit crab too. The beach had lots of big rocks to sit on and crawl on and the water sprayed up as it came in.
While we were at the beach Butch and Zach took our car to the Chrystler dealer in Fort Bragg to check out an engine light that had come on. Before we started on this trip we had the oil changed, got new tires, and had the brakes checked. We only have a few miles over 60,000 so we figured it was good to go on such a long drive. Somewhere in Nebraska the “check engine” light came on. We checked all the obvious things, temps, pressures, coolant etc. At the Mendocino dealership they hooked it up to their computer thingy and couldn’t find a problem. The guy who was their expert reader of this gizmo would not be in until Tuesday. No good for us because we will be on the way home by then. They surmised it might just be a faulty sensor. Anyway, they reset the sensor and if it comes on again we’ll see about the problem in another town. Fingers crossed.
We also took a short tour of the villiage of Mendocino. It is small and charming. The TV program Murder She Wrote was actually filmed in Mendicino, not Cabot Cove in New England and we had a chance to drive by the house where Jessica Fletcher was supposed to have lived.
We also rode through the State forest then came home for a rest. Dinner tonight was grilling. Orange pork chops, jicama salad, and corn on the cob was on the menu.
Saturday, August 4 – Mendocino to El Cerrito
We spent the morning cleaning up Erin and Bryan’s house. We washed and changed the sheets and made sure everything was shipshape for the next visitors. Other friends were coming to stay in a week or so. We got away by about 12:30 which is pretty good for this group.
The ride back to El Cerrito was largely uneventful. The first half is on a twisty stretch through redwood forest. The woods are deep and dark and spooky. While they don’t seem at all sinister they are intimidating because of the grandeur of those trees. It reminded me of the Hobbits traveling with Gandalf through the Mirkwood Forest.
We saw a couple of tent camping sites which would be really cool with those towering trees, ferns, and fallen logs the size of water tower tanks.
The only thing of note other than that was we stopped at least 3 times for bathroom breaks. The kids were drinking lots of fluids and couldn’t get in synch.
For dinner we went to Tacubaya, a Mexican restaurant that was pretty good. It was very busy and was a counter ordering place and they later delivered to our table.